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Slow death planned for Sun's Java IDE biz

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The release of the 6.0 version of the Sun Microsystems-sponsored, open-source NetBeans IDE last week sounded the death knell for two other Sun-spawned development tools: Java Studio Enterprise and Java Studio Creator.

As reported, Sun plans to fold the functionality of the two IDEs into NetBeans and "encourage" users of those tools to switch to their more sophisticated sibling via a migration program.

Even with a migration path in place, though, Sun won't be dropping the Studio Enterprise and Creator users like hot rocks, Sun's NetBeans technology evangelist Gregg Sporar told The Register.

"It's a change, but we're not leaving anyone in the lurch," he said. "We've got a very specific process in place to go through end-of-service life, to guarantee a smooth migration. And we will continue to honor our support contracts with those customers and make sure they are well cared for."

Furthermore, said Tor Norbey, senior staff engineer on the Creator development team, developers can configure NetBeans to feel like the other IDEs. "We've been experimenting with this for a while," he said. "We made a significant amount of that Creator functionality available in NetBeans through the Visual Web Pack."

The NetBeans Visual Web Pack add-on provides a Creator-like drag-and-drop interface for developing web apps. It provides Ajax components based on JavaServer Faces. It also comes with components for quickly cobbling together web services clients and servers.

Norbey points to a new plug-in manager designed to keep all the new functionality accumulating in NetBeans under control. It includes, among other things, profiles targeted to specific types of users.

"As we added more functionality to NetBeans 6.0, we realized that we can't have one version of the IDE with absolutely everything - I guess you can, but it would be huge download," Norbey said. "If you're a Visual Web Pack user, you don't really want to see all this stuff related to Ruby and C++ in your menus," Norbey said.

The NetBeans download page now offers different versions of these profiles targeted at different users. Additional functionality can be added at any time.

What's in store for the Sun Studio 12 IDE? Sporar said that it's definitely not heading for that great software stack in the sky. Sun's tools for optimizing C, C++, and Fortran compilers for the Solaris operating system on SPARC servers, and both Solaris and Linux on x86/x64 platforms, will be supported going forward, he said.

And why, exactly, did Sun decided to kill Studio Enterprise and Creator? It hasn't, Sporar claimed, users have.

"What's driving this decision is community feedback," Sporar said. "It's what people have been telling us they want. Every time we add features to Java Studio Enterprise or Java Studio Creator, they tell us what they really want is all of those features in one IDE. Since everything delivered in [Studio and Creator] was really NetBeans technology, it made sense to move it into open source. Now, with NetBeans 6.0, you can get the best-of-breed features from all those projects in one place."®

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